The rain pelted Katie's soul that day. Each drop softened the shell she'd built one small fragment at a time around her heart. It was time for the shield of grief to fall away.
Today she was drawn to her favorite thinking place under the bridge that connected the Island with the mainland. Watching the eagles soar through the mist there would do her soul good.
Until her mother left her and Daddy, Sunday used to be her time away with God. The drive through the national forest was familiar but Katie looked through the pock marked windshield with new eyes. Old growth trees stood ringed by giant ferns. The serenity of this place had always quieted her heart in the past. She hoped she'd find it there today.
When had it happened? How had her heart changed? She forced back the questions that burned in her mind.
This day had started out better than most. Forcing herself to attend church had been rough. She remembered her heavy heart and wanting to shrink into the wood pew as people stopped to greet her. Why couldn't they see how dark her soul felt? The feelings she hid beneath her skin threatened to seep out announcing her sense of worthlessness to the world.
After the benediction, she felt a warm hand on her shoulder. She turned to see Mrs. Mattson. “Oh Katie, I’m so sorry to hear about your Mom. We’re praying for all of you.” She really meant it too. A piece of the hard shell fell away from Katie’s heart with her words.
Rounding the corner to leave the chapel, Katie heard the voice of her Mom’s best friend. “I just couldn’t sleep last night. That old man of mine had me so hopping mad that I woke up with my nightie in a twist!”
Surprised that Grace came to church feeling so tired, Katie tried to slip by and dash into the women’s bathroom before being discovered.
“Katie, hold on!”
She leaned her head on the wall willing sweet Grace to leave her be.
“Katie, I’m so glad you’re here today. How’re you doing?” Soft laugh lines around bright cerulean eyes warmed Katie up from the inside out.
”I’m fine, I guess. Mom’s gone you know. Daddy, well, he doesn’t leave the house much these days.”
“I’m bringing some of my homemade rolls and a pot of stew over later. The old man and I don’t eat much these days and there’s plenty for you and your Dad.” Grace smiled at Katie, grabbing her hand in her soft warm grasp. “Katie, I’m here if you ever need to talk. Just like the old days.” With that she reached up, hugging Katie’s neck.
A chunk of the steel plate around her heart tumbled away. She was sure someone would hear it clatter to the ground - but when she looked around she was alone again.
Now, hours later, she leaned over the edge of Deception Pass Bridge watching the fog rise from the sea below, wrapping itself like a ghostly rainbow up and over the vast metal structure. She reflected over the Sunday school lessen.
Jesus died for me, she whispered. The concept was fresh to her. The pain of her lost life, the mother who had left her, the sister who had died and the father who drowned his sorrows in alcohol fell away. She felt the last piece of armor crack, splitting from her heart with finality. Jesus loves me they said. He died for my sins. If I let him, he can take this pain away.
The fog rolled on as Katie accepted the love that Jesus gave for all mankind at Calvary - saving a young girl with the truth of His sacrifice. Katie’s spirit soared like the eagle catching the thermal updraft. Her brown eyes followed it as it landed on Eagle Island below. The fog lifted and her soul lightened as the reality of the Savior’s atoning sacrifice on the cross came to light. She remembered a stanza from the Hymn “Be Still My Soul” sung by the congregation that day…
“Be still, my soul: The Lord is on thy side; With patience bear thy cross of grief or pain. Leave to thy God to order and provide; In ev'ry change he faithful will remain. Be still, my soul: Thy best, thy heav'nly Friend Thru thorny ways leads to a joyful end.”
Katie had found her joy in Jesus again.
Be Still My Soul (Hymn) ñ Text: Katharina von Schlegel, b. 1967 Trans.
By Jane Borthwick, 1813-1897
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